Wednesday, April 25, 2012

nine months

Dear Loula:
Oh, Lou Lou. You're at that completely irresistible age, that little period of time where you are both independent, yet totally dependent at the same time. You crawl away as fast as your legs will carry you, but you also reach up for hugs and help frequently. You fit perfectly on my hip, and you can still curl up on my chest. It's the perfect mixture of baby goodness, I think. It's also the milestone that I find the most interesting. Because as long as you've been here, you were also inside me. Isn't that kind of magical? I think so.
So yes, you crawl like cuh-razy. But you also stand up pretty much all day. I've seen you take a few shaky steps without anything to hold on to, but you mostly just scoot around furniture. You can stand for tens of seconds, even clapping and flailing around. And you can stand from sitting with or without objects to help you up. You particularly love the play kitchen, and maybe the sweetest moments are when I catch you and your big sister playing there, side by side. It doesn't last long because one of you is generally stealing something from the other, but when it does happen, it's so very sweet.
You have two particularly awesome tricks. When we hold our hand out and say "shoot it," you shoot your binky out into our hands. You'll even try to shoot it when it's not in your mouth and we give the command. You just shoot your tongue out. You also give high five. You do this when asked and you often routinely crawl up and stick a hand in our face, asking for a high five yourself. You say "mama" and "dada" very clearly. You also say, "whoooaaa," with your excited face when you're really into something. You do say "bah" as well, and I swear it's in reference to a ball.
You love to copy sounds. If we growl, you growl. If we blow spit bubbles, so do you. You have the biggest smile I've ever seen and it pretty much makes my day every day. You take two naps a day - one at about ten a.m. and one at about two p.m. Sometimes you skip the morning nap if something particularly interesting is going on. You still wake up randomly at night. Or sometimes you don't. It's so random and I can't figure it out. That said, you wake up in the morning and flash that toothless grin, AND I CAN'T BE MAD. You are perfectly adorable, even when you don't let me sleep. You had a pretty bad cold this month. We spent a couple nights not sleeping together while you coughed and then threw up (from the coughing). Your runny nose stuck around for weeks too.
You are a big fan of food. The pediatrician laughed when I told him you eat everything that's legal. He didn't think I meant it. If only he knew the things you've had: pizza, cheese quesadilla, ground turkey, turkey hot dog (mashed), whole wheat noodles with pesto sauce (mashed), and the list goes on and on. And that's not mentioning all the random things we mix up for you that are pureed - green beans with yogurt and the like. You just like to eat if we are, so we let you.
You have zero teeth still. I know they're trying to break through, however. Those bottom gums are swollen and tough. You have a smidgen of hair. Jury is still out on its curly factor. You LOVE books more than just about anything in the world. If you see a book, you whine or do the gunshot cry until it is read to you. You also love to look at books by yourself after you've been read to. And you will literally sit on my lap for as long as I will read. It's kind of amazing. You know when you're being naughty, and you have a particular little smirk when you get caught.
I simply love your guts smiley head. You make my day. Every day.
Lots of love,
P.S. Your daddy is standing right next to you in all these shots, keeping you from diving off the chair and breaking something. I love the look on your face on that bottom shot, because you can see just how much you love that daddy.
Here she is at one month.
Here she is at two months.
Here she is at three months.
Here she is at four months.
Here she is at five months.
Here she is at six months.
Here she is at seven months.
Here she is at eight months.

Monday, April 23, 2012


So I've posted pictures from this spot (Temple Quarry Trail, at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon) before (check out that link for a little flash back in time...whoaaaa belly). The truth of the matter is, we frequent this little trail at least once a week when the sun is out. It's ten minutes away, flat and easy, yet completely and utterly beautiful. Just a little get-a-way in the midst of things that doesn't require a cooler, a box of diapers, and six hundred sippies. Belle's really familiar with it by now and always leads the way, directing us, politely: "Go down there. PLEASE." And so we do.
I was talking to a friend this morning and she hadn't heard of this lovely little spot of goodness. For more information, go here. We do just the little walk-about at the base (not the actual hike that goes up the canyon).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

a thank you note

I married Jess, and three days later, moved across the country to North Carolina. In truth, I'm fairly certain I didn't notice my family was missing, because in the first place, we talk to each other daily (still) and also - I was a newlywed. Quite giddy and content and happy to be with my love. The second week of church, I was doing my silent observer thing, watching the dynamics of people and groups, when this girl walks up to me. "Hey. I'm Micki. I'm having a little lunch group at my house on Wednesday. Do you want to come?"
I did go. And I went many weeks thereafter.
About a year ago, Micki, who had moved to West Virginia while her husband finished school, emailed me to ask where I lived in Salt Lake because they were headed back! I told her a little about my searching and where we ended up. (And how due to a certain husband's inability to make decisions, we may live in an apartment forever.) She emailed back to let me know she'd put her name on the waiting list for my apartment complex. They moved in just before I delivered Lou. And she was at my door with delicious Indian food a few days after I got home with that little baby who prevented meal preparation for a few months. Whenever I need someone - and often in a pinch - Micki's there. Annabelle adores her, and Lou doesn't hate her, which is high praise. A few weeks ago, Micki boxed up some clothes for Annabelle that her girls had grown out of. Of course, Annabelle was in heaven and the first day, wore seven different outfits. SEVEN. The photos in this post document some of them.
A few months after I had Lou, she invited me to start walking with her in the morning. Because I was eager to try something different than spinning, and still too nervous to run with my tempermental tendons, I started walking. When I mentioned I secretly wanted to try and run a mile, she said, "Okay, let's do it." So we did. And then we ran a little more. And now we run a few miles every other day. (Yes, I'm running again. I haven't dared mention it for fear I'd jinx myself. I'm currently knocking on wood while typing.) Every morning, even when my eyes barely manage to open, and I feel a little like dying, I get my rear out of bed, because I know Micki is out there - come rain, snow, wind - waiting. And every day I am so glad I do.
Micki and her husband bought a lovely home and moved last weekend. They live two minutes away, and we've still managed to get together to run, but I just want her to know that I think she's great. She's the kind of friend and mother I want to be. She's proactive about helping others. She's patient with her children (and all children), and she teaches them individually. She remembers details about your life. About everyone's lives. She's truly a gem.
In our little apartment kitchen, there are cupboards that face each other, separated by about five feet. When Annabelle plays, the cupboards on the left are designated Micki's house and the cupboards on the right, Annabelle's house. She talks to Micki and borrows sugar from her all day. And I love it. Because Micki truly is the best and deserves the best cupboard in the house. :)

Thank you, Friend.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

a "little" hike

Although today's forecast (rainy gloominess) would surely dissuade you from believing me, it's been rather springy around here. Sunshiney goodness, without the sweaty mess of summer. Such a lovely season. Last week, Jess skipped out of work a little early, and we went on the Bell Canyon hike. Now, apparently there are two ways in to Lower Bell Canyon Reservoir (a big reservoir of water, although it's quite dry right now) - one is up a mountain complete with gravely rocks and death traps, one is a flat path. Of course, we didn't know about the flat path. And so up the mountain we went. With two babies under two. WHY NOT? But seriously? So stressful for me. I had Lou strapped to me for some of the trip and then we traded and I helped Belle. Either way, I had a child's life in my hands. Seriously every single picture of me features a really stern, stressed out face.
Of course, it was a beautiful hike. And although we saw a handful of people sliding down the mountain, we managed to make it out alive. And Belle hiked the whole thing. I was seriously proud but not really surprised - she has her father's blood and lives for nature. Lou Lou pretty much just crashed in the baby pack from all the stress - that girl? She has my blood, the kind that enables one to stress at the mere thought of a chocolate free world.
Anyhow, we made it out alive with the promise we wouldn't do that again for a few years. Next time we'll take the route most commonly traveled by toddlers. The one that doesn't threaten to kill you every three seconds.

Friday, April 13, 2012

ah, japan

I actively try to avoid thinking about Japan. Because if I do let my mind wander there, I inevitably end up taking a seat on the metro and hopping off at my station (Hanzoman, a station nestled right under McDonald's). And then I'm walking the tiny street to my tiny apartment. But first, I'm darting in to the 7-11 and grabbing a Swiss Roll (pastry) and a Pocari Sweat (a soda most similar to Fresca, although quite different really). And then I nod to the Japanese man on the corner, who is always there, shouting out - politely - the evening's dinner special. He always nods back, and I smile, and we have our daily wordless conversation, silently acknowledging our lack of common words and our starkly different eyes. And then I'm turning my key, waiting for the magnetic click of the big heavy door to my apartment building. And then there's the smell - like fish and humidity - that hangs heavy in the hall, just before the door. And then I'm in my apartment, all 300 square feet, sliding my feet into my house slippers, because that's what you do in Japan.

And before you know it, I'm trunky.

The other day, Jess asked, "So if I told you I had a job opportunity in Japan, what would you say?" Me: "I'd start packing my bags. DO YOU?!"

He most definitely doesn't (and he isn't looking), but still. I know that my time in Japan was really unique, that any visit back would be entirely different, colored by different experiences and the different phase we're in. But of all the places I've lived or visited, Tokyo is really the only place I've ever felt at home. Is that funny? I couldn't speak a lick of the language - beyond simple words like, "yes" or "thank you" - but it's as though my soul is actually Japanese. My face might be American, but inside, I yearn for tiny, crowded streets and curry that comes out of a vending machine. I ache for the smell of incense that cuts through the air, a scent so unique, it cannot be mistaken or ignored. I miss the quiet respect that settled about the country like a blanket. I think a part of me will always be aching to go back.

Jess and I are contemplating a visit to Tokyo this summer. Sans children (because no child really wants to be on a plane that long and then adjust to that time change). I think it might be the only place in the world that I'd go willingly and leave my children. Am I crazy? Because the more I think about it, the more I think that Swiss Roll and that Pocari Sweat sound really good. And I bet that man on the corner would still nod.

PHOTO: This is my favorite picture of our summer in Japan. I feel like it just captures everything so perfectly. I believe this place is called Akasaka? This vendor-lined street leads to a large Buddhist temple.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Our instructions as we began the Easter egg hunt, by Papa, were: "Okay, so the eggs for the little kids [the three grandchildren old enough to go seeking] are pastel eggs. The other eggs are for the big kids [the adults]." A moment of silence passed as we all digested these instructions, and then, from Tanner, the eighteen-year-old: "Um, Dad? What's pastel?" Of course, mayhem ensued as the toddlers - not knowing up from down, let alone pastel from primary colors - gathered up whatever eggs they could see, and the big kids started illegally checking the contents of the eggs in hot pursuit of the cash that some of the eggs were hiding. The best part was when we got inside and everyone started opening and sorting their eggs. Annabelle, who you'll remember was supposed to retrieve only pastel eggs (which had only candy), kept opening dollar after dollar after dollar egg. She'd crack it open, puzzle at the contents, then hold it up and go, "MONEY!" 

Oh, I should also mention the ant colonies that formed inside any egg containing Rolos. Uncle Joe spent most of the evening sucking ants up with the vacuum, while the kids would snatch candy, hide in a corner, and consume it in secret, and then run around in a sugar-induced frenzy. All in all, a regular comedy and a total riot. Much thanks to Papa, who took all the teasing in stride as we mocked the pastel eggs all night.

And a few more pictures of our Easter(ish) family. And seriously? The girls in their matchiness? I know. I know.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

body image

This year I've been thinking a lot about my body. I've been thinking about my relationship with my body and what is really important. I've been trying diligently to achieve a healthy balance of food and activity. I've been trying to ignore my obsessive impulses to starve and deprive and work my body to the bone to fit into my old jeans. Conversely, I've also been trying to keep indulgences just that - indulgences. I've been trying to master self-control when it comes to food and fitness.I've been trying very hard to accept my body the way it is and accept that my efforts are just that - efforts - and that they should be acknowledged. Most importantly, I'm learning to accept my imperfect body, the disease that will accompany me for as long as I am mortal. I'm learning a new respect for health and strength and learning to treat my body better. I'm realizing more that this body is it - it's all I've got. And I need to treat it right.
Like many of you, I follow C. Jane's blog. And so often, her very poignant way with words hits a chord with me. Today, I loved this. And it is exactly what I feel. Or perhaps what I want to feel:
You will be tempted to coerce your body into staying the same. You might hear about unhealthy perimeters to keep your body within numbers and measurements. You might feel a need to restore your body to a certain age where you thought your body belonged--even though you would never will your spirit backwards to that same place. You will hear lies that unless your body stays the same you are not good enough.
Your body is not about what you have too much of. Your body is not about what you wish you had more of. Your body isn't even about an appearance, it's more intelligent than that. It's about truth, the physical manifestation of what you know inside.
It's not about what days you will take it to the gym. It's not about what foods you will refuse it. It's not about how you can pluck it, paint it, or shape it with plastic. It's about how you feel about its worth--and your spirit's worth--and those sentiments will be your guide on how you treat it.
Your body has been changing since the day you were born, let it continue to change. Let it fatten, let it thin, let it bloom, let it blossom, let it shrink, let it wrinkle, let it die.
Powerful, isn't it?
Are there days when I really want my old body back? Yes. But I don't want my old life back. Especially because with this new body has come new life. Two of them in fact. A new body was required to make and house babies, a privilege that I have a deep respect for. It's a body that is softer and rounder and changed. But there is nothing in this world I'd trade for my babies, especially not my old body. I'm working very hard on having a healthier perspective of my mortal frame. I want to be proud of what it does daily, even if some days I just survive. I want to respect it for the hard work it has done twice over (and hopefully a few more times) in creating and sustaining life. I want to feel beautiful not because I fit into my jeans, but because my spirit fits into my body.
PHOTO: Me, in my old body. Taken by Jess in our second month of marriage at the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. 


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